AuthorPhoto

Interview with Ann Whitely-Gillen

AuthorPhotoI not only had the pleasure of reading Mrs. Whitely-Gillen’s novel, Last Train to Omaha, but I also got the chance to ask her some burning questions that I had floating around.  Hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did!

  1. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

I absolutely love Martin and Frank and they will be making cameo appearances in my next novel Egan’s Will. As far as a theme goes, I’m addicted to people’s personal journeys – like James’s for example.

  1. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

At the advice of many, I self published and my goal after I establish a good readership is to have a publishing house pick me up. Having never written a novel before it took a lot of research and trying to find the right connections took a lot of weeding through names and businesses. I was extremely lucky to have found my editor Elizabeth Bond from the Canadian Editors’ Association who also worked for Simon and Schuster and has many connections in the publishing field. I found the entire process extremely challenging but worth it. I’ve learned a lot from the process.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

The one thing I can say is to write what you feel and what you know. Use your experience to ignite your imagination. My favourite authors are those who are not afraid to express themselves and their vulnerabilities through their characters. Anais Nin said “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” I believe this to be true.

How does your writing process look? Consistent with regular amounts of word counts daily/weekly… or more sporadic with a gush of words all at once and then a dry bed for a while?

I do my best writing in consistent chunks – hours upon hours, because I feel that’s when I feel I’m totally “in the groove” of it and my best work starts to flow. Having a very busy life doesn’t always accommodate this but when I do get to sit down to write, I’m normally gone for most of the day.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

There are some things on a personal level I would change yes, like getting more into the background of Stephen’s psyche. Also, I wouldn’t rush to have my book launched so quickly. We had some last minute editing issues that lapsed into our first round of publishing the book. Totally my fault of course…

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

I too suffered from a few traumatic experiences that altered the course of my life much as James. Also, James’s anxiety was very real for me as I do suffer from mild anxiety and my best friend growing up was actually hospitalized for extreme agoraphobia and so his attacks were representative of my surroundings and myself growing up. I also believe that there is a part of me and everyone I know in every one of my characters. My life has been my inspiration for the creation of these characters.

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to walk away with? If so, what is it?

Love your life, right now in the moment and be true to yourself. Embrace your relationships and learn from them. Never stop trying to explore your path.

What books did you read when you were kids? Any books you found inspiring?

Dr. Seuss (lol!).  I actually wasn’t an avid reader until my late teens. I did love to write my own stories as a child however. I come from a very artistic family. My dad is a painter and philosopher and my mother was into poets, including Dostoevsky and French Canadian singer Jacques Brel, so we were constantly exposed to art. For me, my biggest inspiration from my childhood comes from listening to Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and the Beatles.

What does your Main Character think about you? Would he want to hang out with you, the author, his creator?

I’m not sure about that. Excellent question. I don’t think I’m logical enough for James but I do think he would at least like me.

What project are you working on now?

I just got back from New York City where I attended a workshop with Syd Field on screenwriting, so my husband and I are teaming up to write the screenplay for Last Train to Omaha. So many of my readers have indicated that they would love to see this story on the big screen so we’re going to attempt to create something tangible and film worthy. I’ve also started my second novel, Egan’s Will. I’m really excited about this book as it will be more of an epic novel and this time, the protagonist is a girl.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I loved writing about Martin’s time in Vietnam. Having grown up in that era, it fascinates me. I remember everyone coming together to protest – creating a revolution to end war. I’m a huge World War II Vietnam War buff. I have so much love and respect for Veterans and what they have sacrificed for us all – the pain and suffering they must have endured is completely unfathomable to me.  I also really enjoyed James’s journey thorough South East Asia with Ted – it brought lightness to the storyline I felt. 

What is your interesting writing quirk?

Sometimes I talk or laugh out loud to myself when I’m writing dialogue. It makes me feel like I’m a part of the conversation somehow. Quirky – I know!

Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why?

All of the Veterans – each and every one of them. I love them all. I feel connected to them and I think it’s because of my deep love and appreciation for what Veterans do and what they stand for. But mostly, I want to meet Martin. His soul is so rich and worldly.

Use 3 words to describe each of the following characters:

  • James- intelligent, vulnerable, broken
  • Rebecca- light, loving, forgiving
  • Kitty- fierce, loyal, fun
  • Ted- soothing, relaxed, brotherly
  • Frank- sexy, charming, loving
  • Martin- philosopher, witty, giving
  • Stephen- narcissistic, funny, deep

LOVER’S SMOOCHES:

You’ve been given the task to host a last minute dinner party. Which authors are on your ultimate dinner invitation list? Alive or Dead.
D.H. Lawrence, Jeannette Walls, and Charlaine Harris (to lighten up the mood because she is so much fun!) 
Craziest thing in your fridge right now?
Some kind of weird dipping sauce – I don’t even want to know what the ingredients are!
Favorite childhood toy you wished you still had?
My stuffed donkey
Favorite ice cream flavor?
Toss up between Jamoca Almond Fudge and Pralines and Cream
Shopping weakness?
Designer boots
Superpower you wish you had?
To fight evil

53d46-addtogoodreads

To Connect with Mrs. Whitely-Gillen, you can visit her at her website:  http://www.anngillenbooks.com/

Book cover

Review: Last Train to Omaha by Ann Whitely-Gillen

Book coverTitle: Last Train to Omaha
Author: Ann Whitely-Gillen
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Book description:

“…in order for a man to be free, 
he must bind himself to his own destiny…”

What happens when a bright young man’s promising future is
tragically derailed at the age of eighteen?

Thirty-five-year-old James Milligan, the solitary and impenetrable chief architect at one of Chicago’s leading design firms, has never recovered from the gruesome death of his best friend nearly two decades before. He’s learned that a distant heart is the only way to shut out the nagging guilt and pain that threatens to capsize him at any moment. Only the dying veterans at the Aaron Milligan Palliative Care Center know the depth of the overwhelming compassion that James harbors within himself, and he is determined never to let anyone else into his heart — or his future — again.

However, when caring and patient palliative care nurse Rebecca Doyle enters his world, his hardened exterior begins to crack against his will. Will Martin Diggs, the charismatic and perplexing Vietnam War veteran convince James that it’s not too late to reclaim his future?

Continue reading

Author Spotlight: Letter from Ann Whitely-Gillen

Book cover          Last Train to Omaha came about under very extraordinary circumstances. Having been diagnosed with breast cancer last year changed my life–and in many ways, for the better. Taking a step back during my recovery allowed me to see things more clearly and redefine myself to become more of the person I was meant to be. Although I was a happily married mother of four, after my diagnosis, I felt I was still missing something deep and meaningful in my life.  Something about me was lost as I trudged through my hectic daily routine and never-ending demands of life. I lost me.

family at launch

I strongly believe my road to recovery began as I rediscovered myself through the characters in this book. I was able to seek solace in their ability to overcome diversity with courage in their hearts and the peaceful resignation they achieved with the connections they shared amongst themselves. Each character in this book represents a connection I’ve made in my life.

Through the eyes of James Milligan and his ensemble cast of supporting characters, we see that destiny is not only what life brings us–it’s about how life can be uniquely tailored simply by how we choose to respond to it.

All the best,

Ann

BIO:

AuthorPhotoAnn Whitely-Gillen resides in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, where she is a communications advisor and freelance writer. In the 1990s, Ann lived in Sydney, Australia for more than a year volunteering her writing and public relations expertise to organizations including Greenpeace. She is also an accomplished musician and singer.

Ann has always wanted to write a screenplay and, in fact, Last Train to Omaha started out with that in mind. After forty pages of writing, Ann decided to turn the screenplay into a novel, as she wanted to delve deeper into James Milligan’s personal journey and enrich the cast of characters.

After recently travelling to New York City to attend a workshop on screenwriting with Syd Field (guru of screenwriting), she is now ready to embark on the visual transformation of Last Train to Omaha to the big screen. Her new novel, Egan’s Will, is also in the works, so stay tuned.

Ann lives with her husband and four children, who she loves to spend time with along with their family dog. In her leisure time, she can be found watching an independent film or reading a good book with a glass of red wine!

Ann and Syd

Ann and Syd

Recipe: Peach Crostada

Peach Crostada 1a The following recipe is from The Perfect Peach by The Masumoto Family.

* This recipe is of the Crostada but made in the traditional way, not the way written in the directions of the book.

 Items needed:

Baking sheet

Parchment paper

pastry brush

 Ingredients:
Dough: (prepare 1 day in advance)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 TBSP Whole Wheat flour

1 TBSP Sugar

1/2 cup + 1 TBSP Butter, unsalted cold and cubed

1 Lg egg

1 1/2 tsp milk

 

Filling:

1/2 cup sugar

3 TBSP all-purpose flour

1.2 tsp cinnamon

6-8 peaches, ripened, peeled and cut into wedges

about 1/4 cup of turbinado  sugar or coarse sanding sugar for edges

1 TBSP Heavy Cream

Directions: (for dough)

  1.  Place flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl or food processor and blend/pulse to mix.
  2. Scatter cubed butter into flour and mix by hand or pulse until resembling coarse sand.
  3. In small bowl, whisk egg and milk together.
  4. Add to flour mixture and mix or pulse until rough dough forms clumps. Do NOT overmix, will become paste and toughen dough. **If dough is extremely wet, can add up to 2 TBSP of all-purpose flour (I had this issue with the recipe and added flour)
  5. Pull together and form into disk about 1″-1 1/2″ thick. Do NOT knead.
  6. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1.5-2 hrs or up to one day.

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place flour, sugar, and cinnamon in small bowl and mix together.
  3. Place sliced peaches in medium bowl and sprinkle with flour mixture. Making sure to coat and stir thoroughly without damaging peaches.
  4. Place dough on floured parchment paper, precut to fit baking sheet.
  5. Roll dough into circle about 11″ in diameter and about 1/8″ thickness.
  6. Slide dough disk and parchment paper onto baking sheet.
  7. Using sliced peaches, arrange in single later, going in a circle starting about 1″-1 1/2″ from edge of dough disk.  Continue pattern until you reach the center. **If there is a lot of juices left over, don’t add to peaches, will end up with boil over.
  8. Start at 12’oclock position and begin folding edge of dough over peaches, overlapping dough as you go in circle until completed.
  9. Using pastry brush, brush outer edges of dough with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar (turbinado or coarse variety)
  10. Place in center of oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  **If using baking sheet with no edges, place empty baking sheet on rack beneath to avoid spillage in your oven.
  11. Once cooled for about 20-30 minutes, cut into wedges and serve!

ENJOY!!

Review: The Perfect Peach by The Masumoto Family

the perfect peachTitle: The Perfect Peach
Author: Marcy Nikiko & David Mas Masumoto
Genre: Cooking
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Book description:

A cookbook showcasing the luscious flavor of peaches in 50 sweet and savory dishes, drawing on the life stories and experiences of America’s foremost peach farming family, the Masumotos of California’s central valley.

Enjoy the luscious versatility of summer’s finest fruit with fifty sweet and savory dishes.

The Masumoto family’s amazing heirloom peaches—which are available for a few weeks each year at the best produce markets and top restaurants in the country—are widely considered the best peaches in the world. Their debut cookbook gathers the family’s favorite recipes, from classics like Hearty Peach Cobbler, Peach Chutney, and Slow-Cooked Pork Tacos to inspired combinations such as Prosciutto-Wrapped Peaches, Caprese with Peaches, Spice-Rubbed Pork Chops and Grilled Peaches, and Stuffed French Toast. And the pristine flavor of a just-picked summer peach can be enjoyed year-round with the easy-to-follow instructions for drying, canning, freezing, or jamming the best of the harvest. Continue reading

Review: The Mistress Files by Tiffany Reisz

MistressFilesCoverTitle: The Mistress Files
Author: Tiffany Reisz
Genre: Erotica
Publisher:Mira Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis:

Welcome to the private files of Nora Sutherlin, The Mistress.

Kingsley Edge, owner of the 8th Circle BDSM club and Nora’s occasional lover, has ordered her to compose client profiles so the other Dominatrixes in his employ can learn from her expert erotic encounters. She’s the best Dominatrix at the club and her clients always leave satisfied, no matter how unusual their requests may be. And The Mistress’s first five cases are anything but vanilla….

Review:

          In this sexy little novella I got to reacquaint myself my favorite Sinner, Mistress Nora.  Oh God, how I’ve missed her!  It was like a day hadn’t gone by since I stepped into her dungeon; even though it’s been a long and lonely road since November.  She’s just as smart and sassy as ever and I couldn’t wait to see what fun she had in store for me. Continue reading

Review: A Taste of You by Sorcha Grace

taste of youTitle: A Taste of You
Author: Sorcha Grace
Genre:  Foodie Erotica
Publisher:
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Synopsis:

Beautiful and talented Catherine Kelly is starting over as a food photographer in Chicago. With her painful past buried over 2000 miles away, she’s focused on her career and is hungry for little else. Until she meets a wealthy bachelor with arresting blue-grey eyes filled with enough tragedy to match her own. William Lambourne is a gourmand who takes great pleasure in food and in women. He’s rich, powerful, and gorgeous — and as talented in the kitchen as he is in the bedroom. From the moment they meet, William is determined to discover the perfect recipe to unlock Cat’s resolve, awaken her senses, and make her his own. He urges Catherine to step out from behind her camera and fully taste all that life has to offer, stirring an appetite in her she never knew she possessed – and it’s one only he can satisfy. As Catherine begins to fall for the stormy-eyed billionaire, she knows she must reveal her own dark secrets. But first, William must win Cat’s heart to ensure their pasts don’t undo them.

Book 1 in The Epicurean series, A Taste of You will leave you ravenous for more of Cat and William’s story!

 **This book is intended for ages 18 and up** Continue reading

Review: The Sea of Tranquility: A Novel by Katja Millay

The-Sea-of-Tranquility-by-Katja-Millay coverTitle: The Sea of Tranquility: A Novel
Author: Katja Millay
Genre: Young Adult/ Literature Fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book description:

I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

Review:

                I’m not one to follow hype or trends, and I’m just going to be completely honest here…it really takes a lot to persuade me to read a book. I’m sort of one of those weirdos who likes a book to reach out and find me in a unique way; and that typically means more than just hearing the title thrown around a few times at the coffee shop.   It doesn’t have to be a new release either; if it grabs me, I grab back.

Continue reading

Review: Then, Again by Karen Stivali

Then, AgainTitle: Then, Again
Author: Karen Stivali
Genre: Romance/ Foodie Romance
Grade/Rating: 4 out 5

Synopsis:

Sometimes you have to lose it all to find what you really need.

Photographer Kay Turner is dealt a double whammy when she flies home for her grandmother’s funeral to find her boyfriend with another woman. Now with two losses to mourn, she retreats to her newly inherited beach house to clear her head.

Everything at the beach is familiar: the sounds of the ocean, the scent of her grandmother’s perfume—and the irresistible smile of James Margolis. The man Kay spent her adolescence pining for is every bit as charming as she remembers.

James always thought of Kay as “a nice kid”, but he feels something very different for the woman she’s become. Especially when he asks if she’d be willing to part with some of her grandmother’s recipes for his new restaurant—and they wind up sharing much more than culinary secrets.

But as their relationship deepens, Kay finds herself caught between the demands of her dream career as a travel photographer, and a chance for happiness with the one man she’s wanted for a lifetime.

Warning: This foodie romance contains sensual scone baking, a heroine who discovers one bad apple hasn’t spoiled her appetite, and a delicious hero you can’t help but crave. Blend well, serve hot.

My Review:

                Then, Again is a story of love and strength but also finding and then holding on to what matters most in life. 
Continue reading

Cover Reveal~ Always and Foreverland by Rachael Wade

Always and Foreverland Rachael Wade Title:  Always and Foreverland
 Genre:  New Adult Romance

 Release Date: Valentine’s Day 2014

Summary:

Not long ago, Micah and Trinity were the same. They shared the same past and the same secrets, and   they knew just how to help each other endure the rough hand they’d been dealt. Some kids grew up in loving homes, with kind families and boundless compassion. But Micah and Trinity weren’t so lucky. Growing up in foster care with no place to call home, they swore they’d be there for one another, always.

Now they’re back in each other’s lives, but the reunion is less than sweet. When Trinity stumbles onto the same college campus as Micah, she realizes her memories with him were and still are a life raft, but according to Micah, those memories never even happened. He’s no longer that sweet teenage boy who defended her and held her when she was scared. Now he’s the campus playboy with only three things on his mind: women, parties, and when he can score his next adrenaline rush. He refuses to acknowledge the truth.

Once upon a time, they dreamt of Foreverland.

Once upon a time, they were friends.

Once upon a time, they were more.

But that was then, and this is now, and no one knows that “once upon a time” doesn’t always lead to “happily ever after” more than two kids who’ve had to say goodbye too many times to count.

About the Author: Rachael Wade is the Amazon bestselling author of The Preservation Series, Love and Relativity, The Resistance Trilogy, and the upcoming sci-fi series, The Keepers Trilogy. When she’s not writing, she’s busy learning French, watching too many movies, and learning how to protect animals and the environment. Visit her at http://www.rachaelwade.com/ and http://www.lightsonoutreach.com/ or come chat with her on Twitter via @RachaelWade.

Rachael Wade author pic

Child of Mine

Review: Child of Mine by Judy Mollen Walters

Child of Mine coverTitle: Child of Mine
Author: Judy Mollen Walters
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction
Grade/Rating: 4 out 5

I’m not one who shops based on book covers (it’s usually never paid off in the past) but I will admit that this particular photo did catch my eye and pulled me in enough to read the synopsis.  Now, there is where I found my true tether…even in the short blurb that accompanied it, a nerve of mine was struck and I felt compelled to read it. And my ever-true “gut” told me I’d like it…

In this story we meet Katie.  A bright woman living a good life with the love of a devoted, supportive husband and a promising career where she finds pure joy on a daily basis as a successful midwife.  Part of Katie’s character is that she is adopted and was blessed with a loving adoptive family, which she has never questioned.  Until now.  Although she has never openly sought the answers to her biological identity, she has always wondered about it and through this story those pesky little questions churn quietly in the background as she grows further into her adult life.  It’s that urge for a biological connection that fuels Katie’s desires to have a family of her own. However, the path she must take is not easy and it tests hers and her marriage’s limits.  As a midwife Katie finds that experiencing countless births is bittersweet as she struggles quietly with her own fertility speed bumps and she finds herself even facing pregnancies that are unwanted or disappointingly unplanned.  What started as a career full of joy and wonder begins to turn into a daily reminder of how “unfair” she feels her life has been.  As a reader and mother I felt sorry for her but knew that her vision of her life may not be what her life was meant to be.  My heart ached for her from time to time and I wanted to rush to the end to see if she was ever blessed with the joys of motherhood.

Continue reading

filet

Recipe: Peppered Filet Mignon

Since Scarlett has dinner at “Vic and Anthony’s Steakhouse” where she says she has “the most amazing meal” of her life, we’ve decided to try a steak recipe! Enjoy! :)



Ingredients:

For the steak:

4 (8-ounce) filet mignon steaks
2 TBSP coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 TBSP plus 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

For the butter:

1 stick butter, softened
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp granulated or powdered garlic
1 bunch chives, left whole

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix the pepper, salt, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Rub 2 teaspoons of the paste all over each steak. Wrap the steaks individually in plastic and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Place butter into a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste and stir until blended and soft. Take a 12-inch piece of plastic wrap and lay it on the counter. Place about half the soft butter onto the plastic wrap. Lay the whole chives down the center of the butter and top with remaining butter. Take the plastic wrap and very gently shape the butter into a log like shape, making sure not to handle too much otherwise the butter will begin to melt. Twist ends and seal edges and place in the freezer until ready to serve.
  3. Preheat gas grill on high for about 15-20 minutes or build a very hot fire on one side of a charcoal grill. Unwrap each steak and grill over high heat for about 7 minutes, turning once, for rare meat. For medium-rare, transfer the steaks to the cool side of the grill, close the lid and cook for 4 minutes longer, turning them once halfway through. Top the steaks with small slice of chive butter and let stand for 5 minutes, then serve.Best served along with grilled asparagus & roasted baby potatoes! :)

Adapted from Food Network

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!!

Win an E-book copy of Metamorphosis by Erin Noelle! 

ENDS MIDNIGHT Monday 3/25!! HURRY!! :)

Review & Giveaway: Margaret from Maine by Joseph Monninger

Margaret from Maine Author: Joseph Monninger

Title: Margaret from Maine

Publisher: Plume (Penguin)

Release date: December 24, 2012

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Description:

The end of Maine Guardsman Sgt. Thomas Kennedy’s conscious life is ushered in by a flash of light on a plain in Afghanistan. While he languishes in a veterans’ hospital, Thomas’s devoted wife, Margaret, is raising their son on a dairy farm in rural Maine. She receives an invitation to Washington, DC, to meet the President of the United States as he signs a bill in support of wounded veterans with war veteran and West Point graduate Charlie King as her appointed escort. Charlie and Margaret’s shared circumstances inspire them to confide in one another. Suddenly, the pair creates a private world all their own, leaving the effects of war behind them. Margaret’s vows to her husband linger, raising a series of harrowing choices.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 3.5/5

In this story we are given a woman living her day to day life on a dairy farm in Maine with her son Gordon and father-in-law Ben, keeping herself together and poised as ever.  She’s a simple woman, not wanting for much, and considering which direction her life has taken, that says a lot about her character and strength.  Unfortunately we never really get to “meet” her husband, Thomas, because he’s now just a shadow of the man he once was.  He joined the Reserves, just like countless others do, to help support their life and possibly do something bigger. But, life had a different plan for him.  He is now considered an injured veteran and with that label comes a very tricky and sometimes treacherous path to be on. Being married to an injured veteran with Tom’s specific condition, Margaret is invited to attend a bill signing in Washington D.C. that is meant to improve the lives and care options for these tattered soldiers.  With that invitation came Charlie King, her assigned escort.   It’s when Charlie and Margaret are together that we see just what she is missing in her life and I felt empathy for her.  Yes she is a married woman, and those vows I do not take lightly, but I could also see her daily sacrifices slowly destroying her and I knew deep down that embracing her feelings and thoughts towards Charlie was the right choice for her.  Charlie opens a door to a world Margaret knew little of and with that he also awakened something inside her she did not realize had been dormant.  She is not just Margaret the dairy farmer/mother/caretaker…she is a woman with needs and yearns for the things taken from her before she had time to really enjoy them.  There were times I found myself wishing there was a bit more internal conflict from each character considering certain situations that they were presented with but I was satisfied it wasn’t all sweetness and roses.  The subjects dealt with between them deserve an honest light and in order to feel connected with the characters, I need to be able to feel their feelings but also place myself in their shoes.  I struggled at times to do that but I never found myself bothered or annoyed with the situations completely.

Charlie is a very honorable and giving man to me and I never once considered him aggressive or opportunistic, which could have been easily done given his particular role in Margaret’s life.  He showed true compassion and never failed to put everyone before himself which is a must in my yes column.  He has ties to the Army as well as a unique connection to the situation Margaret finds herself in.  I won’t spoil the story here, but I will say that the way Mr. Monninger connected Margaret and Charlie was thoughtful, respectful, and never once did I find myself questioning the purpose.

Margaret and Charlie embark on a journey together and the style of descriptive writing used here both enhanced it and overshadowed it at times.  It took me a moment or two to really get into the story at the beginning and I did find myself wondering why certain elements of the background were included the way they were.  By the time I reached the end of the book I realized that although they weren’t necessary to push the story forward, they were elements that added to my overall experience within the story.

For the last three sunsets the prism had caught fire and it did not disappoint her this night. It sparkled bright white for just an instant, and she thought of Thomas, and she thought of good grace falling over the farm, and she hugged Gordon as the prism accepted light, bent it, and sent it on its way. She felt a lesson rested in its performance, that she, too, must accept what came toward her and pass it on its journey, but that seemed too grand an idea for the moment.”

Although Margaret and Charlie are mean to be modern day people they did speak and have thoughts that seemed slightly outdated but it did not detract too much from the story for me.  If anything I considered them polite and proper, with maybe even a touch of southern style.

I was drawn to this book for one reason…Margaret is a military spouse.  As one myself, I am always interested to see how authors handle this very different life we live.  Which aspects are covered and which are barely touched out of fear of the unknown are typically the first thoughts I have when I read a synopsis that includes any mention of military married life.  Most people have ideas of what military spouses face but I can say, without a doubt, their ideas don’t even scratch the surface.  Regardless of the branch of service their spouses serve, they all have had to face the same trials and tribulations in some form or another.  Long separations, the worry of unknown dangers, and carrying the responsibilities alone that most share with others are a constant presence in a military spouse’s daily life.  There are sacrifices made by both the active duty member as well as his/her spouse but the focus and point of discussion is typically only on the soldier’s side of the spectrum.  I’m not implying that a soldier’s sacrifice is in any way lessened because it’s their sacrifices that keep our country safe from harm, and that in itself is the biggest one a person can make.  Even after these troops return safely to their families, there are even more obstacles and worries that must be overcome in order to find peace with what each has experienced during a deployment.  It’s a very tricky situation to be in and their inner strengths are tested again and again long after the battle has been fought.  War changes people regardless of the uniform or responsibilities held during it.  It forces us to accept a reality that most would like to ignore and pushes our strength and resolve beyond every limit we felt existed.

This story highlights just a fraction of what our troops and their families face upon their return but it was done with tastefulness that I respect.  I will say that Mr. Monninger handled the role of a military spouse with class and dignity, never once casting Margaret, or other military spouses, in a poor or weak manner and I certainly appreciated it.  I enjoyed this book and felt that it ended appropriately leaving the imagination to do what it was designed to do.  I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to step into the delicate but muck covered shoes of a military spouse.

***

She did, in fact, believe her husband Tom had acted bravely, but she did not see it in quite the same light as others wanted to see it…..She knew her husband—saw him bracketed by his son on one side, his father on the other—and she did not believe he would have acted courageously for a concept as vague as patriotism. No, it made perfect sense that he would raise his arms and try to protect a fellow soldier, but that had nothing to do with God and Country and flag waving.”

 ***

“Did you believe in the war, Charlie?” Margaret asked softly, her eyes studying the statue.

“Which one?”

“Is there a difference really? I suppose there is. I’m cynical. After Thomas, I don’t have much faith in any of it. I imagine I did at one point.  We were told so many lies and I believed them.”

“I think a lot of my friends still believe in the cause,” Charlie said, not sure of himself where he was heading with it, “because to go back on it now makes us…what? Murderers? Professional assassins? I’ve had trouble with it.”

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About the Author

MargaretMaine.Monninger.credit Ted Taigen Joseph Monninger is the author of Eternal on the Water and The World as We Know It, as well as several award-winning young-adult novels. A professor of English literature, he lives in New Hampshire. Visit him online at http://joemonninger.com

You can find Joseph Monninger on these social media sites:

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Twitter: @joemonninger

My Date with Sin

A Book Boyfriend….is there such a thing? Is it possible to be so emotionally invested in a fictional book that the characters become more than just words on a page?

These are questions I’ve asked myself over the years.  Pondering such existence usually happened when I’d stumble upon those awe gushing reviews of the newest chart busting novel and its leading man, or when I happened upon whispered conversations- that could be compared to teenage ramblings- down the aisles of my favorite book store.  It was chatter such as this that caused me, on several occasions, to choke my laughter down for fear of a lynch mob forming who will undoubtedly come after me for not being the newest member of the Crazy Club. I swore they were everywhere and I just didn’t get it.

I am a reader- this is not news- and have enjoyed many novels over the years.  I’ve experienced stories that made me laugh and do the ugly cry (yes, there is such a thing and we’ve all done it) over a simple moment in fictional time BUT, I’ve never found one that made me feel like we could be anything more than just Reader and Fiction.  Well, that is until now.

I am here to tell you that yes book boyfriends do exist and yes, I have become one of those crazy women who silently consider what it would be like to meet these all-too-real characters who’ve now taken up residence in my head.

Wait.

Did I just admit that on the internet?! *sigh*

So, now that that’s out there and before the urge to go hide in the corner completely suffocates me, I guess I should introduce you all to MY book boyfriend…Mr. Griffin Fiske.  Isn’t he a dreamboat?  Say “Hi” Griffin. ;)

Griffin

For those of you who have not made his acquaintance don’t worry, it’s not too late. He -and the best cast of Sinners a girl could ask for- will certainly make it worth your while thanks to their creator and genius writer Ms. Tiffany Reisz. The first thing you need to do is grab a copy of The Siren here, (by Tiffany Reisz of course) and then proceed to hold onto your britches because she’s going to blow them away.  And trust me when I say this… you’ll love it and will be begging her for more.

*cough* You’re welcome.

Just leave the pants off next time, they won’t be needed.

Of course once she has you by the short ones, you will have no choice but to consume The Angel and then The Prince.  The good news is, you will survive and I can guarantee that you too will want at least one (if not all) of her Sinners to come along with your shiny new membership card to the Crazy Club. Now, you want to know why the handsomely stunning Griffin is THE best book boyfriend?  He never comes alone. ;)  Enjoy! (I know I certainly did)

The Prince

Review: The Prince by Tiffany Reisz

Title: The Prince
Author: Tiffany Reisz
Genre: Erotic Fiction
Grade/Rating: 5 out 5

To begin my review of The Prince I have to admit that this series has rocked me beyond anything I ever thought possible and I am still begging for more. Literally. I’m online searching for whatever morsels I can get my greedy little eyes on and it’s still not enough to satisfy this insane craving. Ms. Reisz has become my drug of choice and according to her… she’s just warming up.

The format and style of this book is unlike any I’ve ever seen. We aren’t given chapters; we’re given glimpses of time. These glimpses are so perfectly timed and notated with headers such as North (past or present) and South; I never once lost my train of thought or where I was last left off. The moments flowed so freely through time that I felt there, in every moment, feeling and seeing them as they happened in real time and not some cheesy flashback moment that is lost in the shuffle of life. The North represents our dear Søren and Kingsley and their journey to where it all began while the South gives us back our much craved Nora and Wesley reunion and her trip into a world she never knew existed.

The Prince picks up right where The Angel left us but this time there’s a dark shadow that blankets everything. We begin with an eerie Prologue that reminds us that not all is well in the world of the Sinners and someone is waiting for an opportunity to prove it. We know that Nora’s file was stolen from Kingsley’s office, but who dared to cross that man? Better yet, who could gain from the secrets kept in that simple file? This mysterious shadow finds its way into the weak crevices of our strong and formidable Søren and begins to taunt him with the still unknown secrets of his past. Someone has their target but whom or what the target is, only the shadow knows and will reveal when it’s time.

I was prepared to see Søren and Kingsley, both past and present, and the dynamic and texture of their relationship but was not strong enough to handle those sweet stolen moments and conversations. They nearly broke me and I found myself not only seeing the young beautiful men they once were but falling hard for Kingsley when he bared his heart out of pure love and weakness for Søren. These two men found each other when they least expected it and need it (whether they want to admit it or not), and now are forced to face the past together. This leads me to constantly wonder…where will their relationship be when it’s over? Søren has always been the strong and solid one but it’s here that I see Kingsley take on the role of protector in the hopes of returning to the one place he’s missed the most…kneeling beside Søren.

Søren also took me by a bit of a surprise again (I swear the man just loves to mess with me) and it was in The Prince that I was introduced to yet another side of this puzzling man. I have always seen him as intimidating, intelligent, and enigmatic but it’s here that I see shocking vulnerability, tenderness, and even raw love. I guess to be a polarizing character you have to keep people on their toes …so now tell me what does it mean when he has me on my knees?
Continue reading

Review: Nopeming Shores by Margie Church

Title:  Nopeming Shores
Author:  Margie Church and J. Andrew Lockhart
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Grade/Rating:  3 out of 5

Synopsis:  An IED snuffed out Gabe Holliway’s life, but couldn’t destroy his love. Using his unique gift, Gabe struggles to help his young wife, Lily, rebuild her shattered future.  But when Gabe’s ghost reaches out to her, Lily fears she’s lost her last hold on sanity. Can she trust what she discovers and what her heart says? When she sees Gabe face-to-face, can she believe her eyes?  When love transcends death, the answers are found in Nopeming Shores.

In this story we are given Lily, a broken woman who struggles daily with the devastating loss of her husband and soul mate, Gabe, during the war in Afghanistan.  These two characters represent thousands of military families who make the sacrifices which most are unaware of.  These spouses place themselves in danger to protect and fight for freedom, while their families are at home watching the news and feeling their resolve break when their world crumbles.  War is an ugly thing no matter which way you look at it; and unfortunately, Lily’s story is like the thousands of spouses who face each day with unimaginable strength only to be taken down by those unexpected memories.

Lily has a life saturated by the Army but now faces this world without the one person she was destined to spend it with.  Every song on the radio, every place she goes, even those she speaks to somehow test her fragile heart and nearly break her each time.  Every day feels like a battle to conquer; and most days, she barely makes it through.  During this time Gabe, whose spirit has not moved on, watches helplessly as his love becomes a shadow of what she once was, and he struggles within himself on how to help her move on.  He is given an opportunity; but if it’s not handled correctly, neither of them will survive this new reality they face.

“All the old habits and routines had kinks in them now, too. Nothing came easy. People acted awkwardly around her and sometimes seemed to avoid her on purpose. At times, old friends spoke to her like she was as fragile as a butterfly’s wings. Some days she was.”

This story is written with great detail; and although it is not my favorite style of writing, readers can still gain the emotion and message the author is trying to convey.   I had moments of understanding and felt a common bond with them that all military families share but is rarely ever written about.  I wish this story had more of Lily and Gabe’s inner struggles to showcase the hardships these couples face, but there is enough to show readers just how these spouses live their lives.    There is also an element of poetry that is not often found in novels, and it brought a different feel and flow to the story and gave it a more personal touch.  It is a story with strengths and weaknesses, unbreakable love, and survival at its best and its ugliest.  It shows the power that memories can have and the perseverance to get through life and potentially find peace.

“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that tomorrow is a gift. And so is love.”

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